Vracer111 New Reader
6/23/12 3:54 p.m.

It's been a loooong time since I've been on track. With new wheel/tires on the FR-S I've had for a month that just recently passed the break-in period I was really excited to be getting back on track. I have a co-worker with a '97 EK civic he bought new and has recently turboed (past few years) who has been wanting to go on track and when I told him about this he was like "Let's do this!" So we did...

We left work just before 11 and get to MSR Houston just after noon, paying for our pre-registration and setting up in the paddock for the afternoon sessions which started at 1:00. Had short pre-briefing from track/event representative in the covered paddock area on what to do/expect/etc before beginning. We were both running in the novice group (me because new car and years since I've been on track - I'd rather get reacquainted in the Novice group)

Track Map, ran counterclockwise...I've only ever run MSR Houston counterclockwise (I want to run it clockwise too!... maybe next time)

1st session: I had front pressures at 37psi and rears at 35 (aired up in the morning before going to work) and decided to try that. Since there was no instructors I told him to follow me for a few laps. So I lead him around for two laps and he's keeping up very well and seems to get the hang of it. So I leave him to do his own thing and proceed to pick up right back where I left off...er right...LOL Not quite like starting all over again, but if it's been a while since I've autocrossed or been on track I don't start off at a reasonable pace I always overdo it. So yeah I was overdriving the car, not getting the basics right, etc... Was not a pretty sight (in my eyes at least...) I know what I wanted to do and I could tell I was really doing it wrong...mainly because I was going too fast. So after understeering the FR-S for a few laps and not being relaxed I started slowing down and trying to start back from zero... started doing a little better. Kinda got the feel that I was just on the verge of getting it back at the end of the first session. So yeah first session... didn't go as I thought. Don't even care about the video footage...

2nd session: Before beginning this session I checked the tire pressures after coming in from the first session and they were about 40 front and 38 rear. Went ahead and bled them down 2 psi before running. Took it easy at the start and worked my way back up to getting it as the session went on...this session is were I was starting to get back in the groove. And the FR-S really started to be nice...must be combination of tire pressures, fuel going down, and driver remembering how to drive. Stock brakes are pretty good on the FR-S, had no issues at but after starting to remember how to drive in the second session - yeah I think for track use I need more bite! My co-worker was having a great time and at the end of the second session we were going to swap his generic tires (on a 240 whp civic - with Torsen differential at least!) for my Nitto NT-01's on UL-6's I sold him. Unfortunately upon coming in at the end of the session his water temp gauge started going to max... open the hood and the radiator fan was dead and melted - being it was right in front of the turbo header manifold. Two years of street driving without issue, but 2 track sessions totally killed it. So he was out, letting it cool down and not taking any chances. He will be redoing the cooling system to put a pusher fan in front of the radiator to keep it away from the header, and wrap the header with thermal wrap while also fabbing up a heat shield for it. He had a blast though and wants to go again later this year early in the fall - should give him enough time to work out the kinks.

3rd session: I went ahead and bled tires down to 35psi. This session was better than the second session as I was starting to push more and actually using the proper gearing to keep the rev's above 5k rpm...basically a whole lot of 2nd gear for nearly half the track it seems. I also absolutely did not want to hit the rev limiter - once you go above 74000rpm it cuts power GENTLY but QUICKLY on you dropping your Rev's in an extremely annoying manner. So I explored the limits more and started getting faster in this session. 35psi seemed really good both in feel and in tire scrub so I kept the pressures there for the remainder of the sessions.

4th session: This session was horrible! Not because of my driving, but because an instructor thought "Hey guys running in the novice group; I'll be lead and you all follow in a train for the whole session..." At least he told us this before the session started, didn't even bother recording this session. Slower and more frustrating than running at the pace I got up to in the previous 2 sessions, but I did relearn the "correct" line for The Sweeper though. I run a mix of autocross style short distance line and track traditional line theory because it's more fun, I'm not racing, and I'm trying to be easy on the brakes. Definitely more fun on the Gut Check/Sugar and Spice section.

5th session: This would have be perfect, except I forgot one little thing... to turn off the traction/stability control before starting! Doah... the one session, the last too, where I had free and open track for the entirety to go at whatever pace I wanted! I didn't realize this mistake until it was too late... the only mitigation I could provide was going to Sport Mode. Well at least I know know what it's like to run with traction control/stability control enabled in the FR-S. ABS is annoying when you have sticky tires..."why are you kicking in ABS?" Only had a few instances of annoying power robbing traction control...but other than that it was really good session. I was almost one with the car and the combination of low fuel level and tire grip made the handling just awesome... The FR-S with sticky tires is a whole different car from the stock setup...it's a corner eating machine with GRIP! If only I had everything disabled!!! I guess that means I will have to go back... :)

So summary, FR-S on track with sticky street tires is very different from FR-S on street with stock tires; It's so planted and stable I have no idea how you'd get the rear to come out. And it's so much fun!

Only complaint I would have is I wish it was a little faster to rev for the downshifts...I'm used to a free flowing Integra with racing flywheel that allows me to shift as fast as possible, with the FR-S you have to wait just a little. Maybe intake/exhaust is all it needs?

A few pictures of the car:

And some videos:

Session 2: (Helmet Cam)

Session 3: (Inside View)

Session 5: (Inside View - traction/stability on)

JohnyHachi6 Reader
6/23/12 5:51 p.m.

Sounds like a blast - I can't wait until I can get my hands on one!

belteshazzar UltraDork
6/23/12 8:06 p.m.

thanks for the writeup

BAMF Reader
6/23/12 8:55 p.m.

I didn't realize that these had a trunk rather than a liftback.

Vracer111 New Reader
6/23/12 9:48 p.m.
BAMF wrote: I didn't realize that these had a trunk rather than a liftback.

Reason given by Toyota/Subaru for the decision was for increase in chassis rigidity and weight reduction. I was a little dissapointed when I found out it was not going to be a hatchback...but I'm ok with the notchback even if loading tires and other items is more complicated/difficult.

BAMF Reader
6/24/12 11:46 a.m.
Vracer111 wrote:
BAMF wrote: I didn't realize that these had a trunk rather than a liftback.

Reason given by Toyota/Subaru for the decision was for increase in chassis rigidity and weight reduction. I was a little dissapointed when I found out it was not going to be a hatchback...but I'm ok with the notchback even if loading tires and other items is more complicated/difficult.

That makes perfect sense for a car with the mission of an FR-S/BRZ. I hadn't seen a photo of one with the trunk open, so I assumed by the roofline it would be a hatch. I'm only mildly disappointed, but certainly not enough to put me off having one.

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